Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The First of September

Things that Wikipedia considers worth mentioning with regard to 1st September include:

Events
1532 – Lady Anne Boleyn is made Marchioness of Pembroke by her fiancé, King Henry VIII of England.
1836 – Narcissa Whitman, one of the first English-speaking white women to settle west of the Rocky Mountains, arrives at Walla Walla, Washington.
1878 – Emma Nutt becomes the world's first female telephone operator when she was recruited by Alexander Graham Bell to the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company.
1914 – The last passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, dies in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo.
1972 – In Reykjavík, Iceland, American Bobby Fischer beats Russian Boris Spassky and becomes the world chess champion.

Births
1286 – Elisabeth Richeza of Poland, Queen of Poland (d. 1335)
1653 – Johann Pachelbel, German composer (d. 1706)
1896 – A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, the Hare Krishna Movement (d. 1977)
1906 – Eleanor Burford Hibbert (Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr...), English writer (d. 1993)
1922 – Yvonne De Carlo, Canadian-born actress (d. 2007)
1933 – Ann Richards, American politician (d. 2006)
1935 – Seiji Ozawa, Japanese conductor
1939 – Lily Tomlin, American actress and comedian
1950 – Dr. Phil McGraw, American talk show host
1955 – Bruce Foxton, English bassist (The Jam)
1957 – Gloria Estefan, Cuban/American singer
1962 – Ruud Gullit, Dutch footballer
1970 – Padma Lakshmi, Indian actress

Deaths
1067 – Baldwin V of Flanders
1581 – Guru Ram Das, fourth Sikh Guru (b. 1534)
1838 – William Clark, American explorer, part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (b. 1770)
1967 – Siegfried Sassoon, English poet (b. 1886)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Elul Accounts

I would like to say something useful and profound about this time of year in the Jewish community. Not that I could necessarily find such things to say, but in any case I need to use my energy for turning towards a couple of friends and working things out with them. Shavua Tov.

Nigella is Back!

Nigella has a new TV series and cookbook on their way to our screens and shelves, so it's time for the papers and magazines to hype it up. It is probably healthier for me to lust after the siren herself rather than her Slut's Spaghetti, but I do enjoy reading such comments as:

"I do think that enjoying food is a way of celebrating being alive. People often say that no one lies on their deathbed wishing they’d spent more time at the office and what I’d add is that I am sure that no one lies on their deathbed saying I’m so glad I turned down the bread, the cheese, the pudding, so thrilled I spent all those years on a diet. "

O go and read the rest yourself!

The Dream Continues

An Association Football game is played in two halves of 45 minutes each, with a fifteen-minute interval between the halves. The referee may add on time at the end of each half to make up for that lost when injuries are treated, time is wasted, or other reasons according to the rulebook.

Today, Queens Park Rangers, currently top of the league and unbeaten after the first three games of the season, went up to Pride Park to play Derby County. At the end of the ninety minutes, QPR were down 0-2, and by all accounts deservedly so. They managed to score a consolation goal in the 91st minute. In the 94th minute, Jamie Mackie (above) equalised and the match ended almost immediately. As they said on BBC Radio London - Rangers were rubbish for 91 minutes and world-beaters for 3 minutes.

It is a bloody good feeling actually ... and we are still unbeaten in the league. UUUUU RRRRR's!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Best and Worst Jokes in Edinburgh

From the Telegraph:

"Comedian Tim Vine has won a prize for the funniest joke of this year's Edinburgh Fringe. The pun pundit, who won the Perrier newcomer award in 1995, was presented with his latest prize by digital TV channel Dave. His winning one-liner was: "I've just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I'll tell you what, never again." The award was judged by eight comedy critics, whose shortlist of 24 jokes went forward to a public vote.

The top 10 festival funnies were judged to be:

1) Tim Vine "I've just been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. I'll tell you what, never again."

2) David Gibson "I'm currently dating a couple of anorexics. Two birds, one stone."

3) Emo Philips "I picked up a hitch hiker. You've got to when you hit them."

4) Jack Whitehall "I bought one of those anti-bullying wristbands when they first came out. I say 'bought', I actually stole it off a short, fat ginger kid."

5) Gary Delaney "As a kid I was made to walk the plank. We couldn't afford a dog."

6) John Bishop "Being an England supporter is like being the over-optimistic parents of the fat kid on sports day."

7) Bo Burnham "What do you call a kid with no arms and an eyepatch? Names."

8) Gary Delaney "Dave drowned. So at the funeral we got him a wreath in the shape of a lifebelt. Well, it's what he would have wanted."

9) Robert White "For Vanessa Feltz, life is like a box of chocolates: Empty."

10) Gareth Richards "Wooden spoons are great. You can either use them to prepare food. Or, if you can't be bothered with that, just write a number on one and walk into a pub…"

On receiving his prize, Vine said: "I am very happy to win this award and I'm going to celebrate by going to Sooty's barbecue and having a sweepsteak".

Judges also selected some of the worst jokes of this year's Fringe, which included:

Sara Pascoe "Why did the chicken commit suicide? To get to the other side."

Sean Hughes "You know city-centre beat officers... Well are they police who rap?"

John Luke Roberts "I made a Battenberg where the two colours ran alongside each other. I called it apartheid sponge."

Emo Phillips "I like to play chess with bald men in the park although it's hard to find 32 of them."

Bec Hill "Some of my best friends are vegan. They were going to come today but they didn't have the energy to climb up the stairs."

Dan Antopolski "How many Spaniards does it take to change a lightbulb? Juan."

Antopolski's inclusion in the "worst joke" list comes just a year after he won the Dave trophy.

His winning joke was: "Hedgehogs - why can't they just share the hedge?""

Did any of these make you laugh? Have to admit, I kind of liked the chicken one and the lightbulb one.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Scariest Monsters in the Galaxy

According to the Telegraph, readers of SFX magazine have voted as the scariest monsters the one and only Daleks. As long as they are not the awful multicoloured ones above, I will certainly agree. The dalek cake below also kind of takes the ooooomph out.

The list:

1. The Daleks - Doctor Who
2. Lorne - Angel
3. Aliens - Alien franchise
4. Death - Discworld
5. Gollum - Lord Of The Rings
6. The Shadows - Babylon 5
7. Gizmo - Gremlins
8. The Thing - The Thing
9. Aslan - The Chronicles Of Narnia
10. Predators - Predator franchise
11. The Borg - Star Trek
12. Pilot - Farscape
13. The Cybermen - Doctor Who
14. Godzilla - Godzilla
15. Ludo - Labyrinth
16. Pinhead - Hellraiser
17. Nibbler - Futurama
18. The Great Dragon - Merlin
19. Frankenstein's Monster - Frankenstein
20. Slimer - Ghostbusters

As Tom Chivers points out in his recent blog, however, the rest of the list is a bit rubbish. Anything out of Angel has to come second to anything from Buffy. This is a terrestrial law. Gollum and Frankenstein's Monster are both tragic characters, terribly mistreated and thus driven to behave badly. The same for the Great Dragon. I am more scared of those that made them into what they became. And Aslan isn't a monster. Duh!

O hang on a sec, it seems upon rereading the articles that they were voting for the Greatest monsters and not the Scariest. Silly me for thinking that what makes a monster great is its scariness. Ok, then Gollum and Karloff are back in, but still no place for the dragon. And if I could add one other great and scary monster that is just behind the daleks for me, it would be the giant living brain called IT in "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle. Terrifying!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

QPR in First Place!

Three games. Three wins. Nine goals scored. None conceded. Please stop the season now before the dream crumbles and normal service is resumed. These aint no New York Yankees dripping with Jeters and Teixeiras. This is a team of Palarse rejects and overpaid journeymen. This is the team that had six managers just last season. This is Queens Park Rangers, humbled by lowly Port Vale the other day at home in the Carling Cup, yet sitting proudly at the top of the Championship table tonight.

I shall be sleeping in my Dennis the Menace shirt

by the way, for my American friends, you may like to see a picture of the English Dennis the Menace:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Some Day my Plinth Will Come

In Trafalgar Square in my home town there is a great big column with a sailor at the top, and some plinths at the corners supporting hagiographic statues of military leaders and a king. One of the plinths, however, is often empty, and has been the site for a variety of artistic projects.

Details of the latest contenders for the Fourth Plinth were released today. My favourite is pictured above - a diabetic's delight, which one may savour without risk. To find out about the others, have a look here. O I do love a nice piece of Battenberg!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When is Lou Gehrig not Lou Gehrig?

The Telegraph writes today that Lou Gehrig may not have had Lou Gehrig's disease after all. The motor neurone disease that killed him at the age of 38 might have been a different kind of condition, one that is triggered by blows to the head, and not the one named after him. The story is here.

This means that Professor Stephen Hawking may now suffer from his own disease instead of one belonging to someone else.

NB Information on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis may be found here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The New Football Season Begins

You gotta feel sorry for poor old Robert Green, the hapless goalie whose blunder allowed the USA to draw with England in the World Cup in South Africa (remember that?). Or do you? I am a QPR fan and they were stuffed at home by a 4th division team in the Carling Cup this week. Robert Green should jolly well feel sorry for me! Nevertheless, when I saw this headline:

"West Ham team-mates give Robert Green abuse to prepare him for England backlash"

I felt a momentary pang of sympathy. Then it passed, and as I read on:

"West Ham expect Green to become a target and they along with players have been hurling insults at him in training so that he is accustomed to it come the opening of the Premier League campaign"

I thought - what a great excuse for abusing someone at work! Y'know ... the group at your presentation is a really tough one, so let me help you while you rehearse ... what a stinking load of excrement, etc! Then I realised that this was right out of an old Dilbert strip. O well ...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Belief-0-Matic Knows Me Best!

Via somebody's tweet, to a piece by Roger Ebert, to this quiz, I answered twenty questions and the computer told me which faith tradition is mine. Despite a warning:

"Warning: Belief-O-Matic™ assumes no legal liability for the ultimate fate of your soul."

I share with you now the results I received

1. Reform Judaism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (95%)
3. Unitarian Universalism (93%)
4. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (86%)
5. Neo-Pagan (81%)
6. Secular Humanism (79%)
7. Baha'i Faith (72%)
8. Orthodox Judaism (70%)
9. New Age (69%)
10. Sikhism (65%)
11. Islam (64%)
12. Mahayana Buddhism (61%)
13. Orthodox Quaker (56%)
14. Theravada Buddhism (54%)
15. Nontheist (54%)
16. New Thought (52%)
17. Jainism (50%)
18. Scientology (50%)
19. Taoism (45%)
20. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (40%)
21. Hinduism (37%)
22. Eastern Orthodox (34%)
23. Roman Catholic (34%)
24. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (33%)
25. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (32%)
26. Seventh Day Adventist (29%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (13%)

Guess what? The computer got it right. While I am a bit perturbed that I am almost as Neo-Pagan as I am a Reform Jew, I am also glad to have it confirmed that I am unlikely to become a Mormon in the near future. I just couldn't handle the underwear. I am also more likely to become a secular humanist than an Orthodox Jew. Hmmmmm .....

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Which Hair Cliche to Use?

The woman most famous for playing a wizarding student in the Harry Potter films has marked the completion of the final episode of the saga by having her hair cut short. "'Hair'-mione no more!" screamed the tabloid newspaper. I wonder if it will cause as much of a furore as occurred when young Mia Farrow did something similar in the '60's?


via www.filmreference.com:
"Mia Farrow began her career in the successful television series Peyton Place playing Allison Mackenzie, a type of role that would become standard in her repertoire: the virginal and innocent waif—sensitive, vulnerable, and intelligent. Admired for her long, Alice-in-Wonderland hair, Farrow shocked Hollywood one day by cutting it all off, an independent act which, odd as it may seem now, made headlines across the country, and characterized Farrow as not just another pretty face content to follow the instructions of her male Hollywood bosses."

Meanwhile, cue endless references to urchins and Audrey Hepburn and pixies and other elfin folk.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Happy Diabetic

When I was little, people baked cakes. They were round, had certain flavours, and icing. Sometimes the icing would be decorated with icing rosettes. Maybe there would be a small and shiny ribbon around the cake. I do not remember any writing on the top. Just candles. That blew out and stayed out.

Not long after I grew out of birthday parties with friends and jelly and sandwiches and crisps and orange squash and cake, a new craze reached our island shores: ice-cream cake. A cake, made out of ice-cream. This was amazing, and had to be collected from the shop during the party because nobody had a freezer big enough or empty enough to keep it solid.

Let us move swiftly through snoopy cakes, womble ice-cream cakes, and the dark years when i wasn't invited to any children's birthday parties so i have no idea what kind of cakes they had, to today. Just saw the cake pictured above on Twitter. The comment with it was: "40 yrs of federally-funded family planning, 50 yrs of the pill". I find this somewhat discombobulating. I don't want to have this cake or eat it. Luckily I found this page instead.